Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

NL roster by Win Shares: Izzy, Duncan snubbed for ASG?

It’s the day of baseball’s annual summer classic, and not a day too soon for our own annual review of the NL All-Star roster. How did fans — and players — do picking their league’s worthies? Last year, we used VORP to determine the most deserving — this year, we’re using the more comprehensive Win Shares, though we’ll look at VORP where the win shares are close.

Fan vote totals are listed first with player vote totals in parenthesis. Players on the final roster based on fan voting are in bold. Asterisks (*) note those players that made the roster based on player voting.

First Baseman Votes WS
1 Prince Fielder, Brewers 2,706,020 (659) 15
2 Albert Pujols, Cardinals 1,936,054 16
3 Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers 1,421,208 8
4 * Derrek Lee, Cubs 987,994 (212) 14
5 Carlos Delgado, Mets 951,911 7

We observed a few weeks ago how inexplicable it was that last year’s top overall vote-getter was being outpolled by a Brewer, albeit a Brewer having a tremendous first half. No doubt Prince Fielder deserves to be on the team, but weighing past performance even a bit requires that The Great Pujols be starting tonight. And even if you’re not going to nominally factor in prior history, Pujols is tops at the position in current-year Win Shares. We understand the fan vote, since Fielder out-VORPs Albert 35.5-28.6, but why didn’t the players even put Pu in?

Second Baseman Votes WS
1 Chase Utley, Phillies 2,112,142 (683) 17
2 Rickie Weeks, Brewers 1,253,651 6
3 Jeff Kent, Dodgers 1,206,760 9
4 Craig Biggio, Astros 1,195,567 5
5 Jose Valentin, Mets 763,772 3
* Orlando Hudson, Diamondbacks -191 12

Fans got this one right, though they missed the league’s other great 2B in Hudson, who wasn’t even in the top five (thank goodness the players got it right). We know there’s a lot of Brewer love out there this year, but Rickie Weeks?

Third Baseman Votes WS
1 David Wright, Mets 2,302,836 (322) 16
2 * Miguel Cabrera, Marlins 1,807,720 (567) 17
3 Chipper Jones, Braves 1,084,240 11
4 Scott Rolen, Cardinals 998,950 8
5 Aramis Ramirez, Cubs 899,298 11

We don’t blame fans for punching the ticket for David Wright, who may not match Miguel Cabrera’s offensive numbers but is a superior overall third baseman (not to mention an infinitely more likeable fellow). Still, Cabrera topped him in first-half WS. The players got this one right.

Shortstop Votes WS
1 Jose Reyes, Mets 2,213,606 (431) 17
2 * J.J. Hardy, Brewers 1,976,083 (364) 13
3 Omar Vizquel, Giants 1,108,665 5
4 Rafael Furcal, Dodgers 1,031,639 9
5 David Eckstein, Cardinals 905,797 5
Hanley Ramirez 16

Kudos to fans and players alike for electing Reyes, who had the most win shares of any NL shortstop. But wait: Hanley Ramirez is a close second with 16 WS, and he’s Reyes’s superior in VORP (45.1-35.2). Yet fans and players disrespected Han-Ram, who tallied fewer votes than David Eckstein (no offense, Eck).

Catcher Votes WS
1 Russell Martin, Dodgers 2,039,130 (583) 17
2 Paul Lo Duca, Mets 1,742,182 4
3 Johnny Estrada, Brewers 1,460,902 6
4 Bengie Molina, Giants 1,383,753 8
5 * Brian McCann, Braves 971,502 (231) 8

Despite the big-market exposure of Paul LoDuca, Russell Martin — who plays in a big market and is putting up the stats — was an easy choice here. We’re disappointed that Yadier Molina’s injury took him out of the running — he might’ve been an interesting second choice.

Outfielders Votes WS
1 Ken Griffey, Jr., Reds 2,986,818 (577) 12
2 Carlos Beltran, Mets 2,511,242 (323) 14
3 Barry Bonds, Giants 2,325,391 16
4 * Alfonso Soriano, Cubs 2,202,513 (306) 13
5 * Matt Holliday, Rockies 1,549,050 (725) 14
6 Geoff Jenkins, Brewers 1,206,462 8
7 Andruw Jones, Braves 1,205,800 10
8 Bill Hall, Brewers 1,176,633 9
9 * Carlos Lee, Astros 1,165,580 (372) 12
10 Corey Hart, Brewers 1,099,359 12
11 Luis Gonzalez, Dodgers 918,166 11
12 Jim Edmonds, Cardinals 866,118 4
13 Moises Alou, Mets 838,422 3
14 Juan Pierre, Dodgers 836,800 6
15 Jason Bay, Pirates 756,026 9
Eric Byrnes 18
Chris Duncan 15
Aaron Rowand 14

Voting for outfielders is all about brand awareness, and no one has name recognition like Griffey, Beltran and Bonds, what with their mugs a virtual revolving billboard for FOX Sports. But for the second-straight year, one of the top three outfielders in the NL, Captain America himself, Eric Byrnes, has been snubbed. Last year at the break, he was second in VORP among senior-circuit outfielders, and this year, he not only leads all NL outfielders in Win Shares, he has the most of anyone in the NL. Speaking of snubs, the league’s third-best outfielder by WS didn’t even place in the top 15. Who’s that? Chris Duncan, who also happens to have a higher VORP than starter Carlos Beltran (21.8-21.6). Props to the players, though, for electing Matt Holliday, who is tied for fourth in win shares and is second in VORP at the break.

Starting Pitchers Votes WS
1 * Jake Peavy, Padres -352 12
2 * Brad Penny, Dodgers -283 15
3 * Cole Hamels, Phillies -217 10
4 * John Smoltz, Braves -184 10
5 * Ben Sheets, Brewers -120 8
Chris Young 11
Ian Snell 11

Players reasoned their pitchers pretty well but overlooked two of the NL’s best, if unheralded, starters: Chris Young and Ian Snell.

Relief Pitchers Votes WS
1 * Francisco Cordero, Brewers -304 6
2 * Trevor Hoffman, Padres -193 7
3 * Brian Fuentes, Rockies -113 3
Takashi Saito 9
Jason Isringhausen 8
Matt Capps 8
Ryan Franklin 8
Tony Pena 8

We’re not a big fan of relievers being selected for the All-Star Game, simply because they’re unlikely to be among the best pitchers (see Brad Penny’s AS 2006 performance). We don’t doubt that a guy like Trevor Hoffman isn’t one of the best at what he does, but that’s different from being one of the best overall pitchers in his league. No one is going to be able to convince us that Francisco Cordero is as good as any middling starter on any team. However, if the All-Star Team must have "closers," then all three of the selected relievers are wrong choices. At least, Jason Isringhausen, Takashi Saito, Ryan Franklin, Tony Pena and Matt Capps are all better options. If we focus the microscope a bit closer and use WXRL (relievers’ expected wins), Saito, Pena and Capps emerge as three of the top four best (Billy Wagner being the other). Still, Izzy and Franklin rank higher than Cordero and Fuentes. For that matter, Rheal Cormier ranks higher than Fuentes.

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